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Friday, June 30, 2006

can't touch this

"You need balls in a city like Paris," says my young American friend, her skirt flapping in the wind.

Two young men are yelling after us and following us down a street in the Latin Quarter. They want to talk. I make it clear that we don't, no matter how much they claim to love blonde hair.

"Yeah I've grown a pair of balls," I tell her, "big fucking hairy ones."

I turn around and yell "Non!" To the two young men, quickly getting on my nerves.

On the metro a sweaty man in a baby blue shirt sits across from me with his briefcase. His eyes molest me as I make an effort to avoid his glare. When the person seated beside me gets off, he moves into their seat. His arm brushes up against me several times and I keep shifting away. I feel his eyes run down my face, along my body, and down to my feet. His smell makes me nautious.

I decide to get off early. I make sure he's not getting off, and jump off at the last minute, just in case he's planning on following me home. I just don't like the smell of him, and every alarm in my body is going off.

Don't get me wrong, I love men. But there are nights when I feel threatened by them. Flirting is fun, but avoiding agressive men isn't. I've stopped taking chances.

In the streets two different men ask me for a lighter, I avoid small talk, walk away quickly.

Later my phone rings.

"Bon soir, it's Micheal," a young man who's calls I've been avoiding, "do you want to come to a club tonight?"

"No, I'm busy."

"Do you want to do something tommorrow?"

"No, I'm busy. Look, I can't see you again. I leave in a week and until then I'm very busy." My voice is firm and my French fluent.

For the first time, this overly persistent young man gives up.

"Okay, goodnight."

I pour myself a vodka tonic to celebrate, and realize that yes, Paris has changed me.


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Thursday, June 29, 2006

french windows

snow white
old hospital
rainbow windows
windows in the sky
avenue de versailles
painting people in gold
hotel de ville
buildings bathing in sunlight
montmartre creperie
old hospital window
i've got the blues
from my balcony

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

love beyond amour

Her long body is sprawled out on the grass, her face glowing in the sun.

I throw myself across her.

“Just over a month now. And then there’s a new life in Toronto. No more kids, none of this.”

And as much as this life here is growing on me, I know I’ve got something to look forward to.

One of my roommates for next year spent the last few days in Paris with me. Shacked up in my tiny apartment, it became clear that this was someone I wanted to live with. I have a good life awaiting me back in Canada.

The days were magical. Walking in the sun, the rain, smiling under umbrellas and walking under the Eiffel tower at night.

We ate cheaply and well. Salads and artichokes out on the balcony. Big pastries in the morning. Lemon tarts for dessert. Wine with lunch and dinner.

Her beautiful face smiled first thing in the morning, and talked with me late into the night.

She came to the park with the kids and took a giant load off, made my life easier, and switched up my day-to-day rituals.

She met my Turkish family in Montmartre, and was overwhelmed by the amount of love that one small restaurant, and one family could give. When I hugged my Turkish mother goodbye-she says I’m her other daughter-we walked down the wet street and she thanked me for the experience.

They’ve been a rich few days, so rich that I know something just as good lies ahead.

You can take the girls out of Paris, but you can’t take away their joie de vivre.

Robyn and Gill
pastry queen
sunday market
rainy day
hidden alley
rock star

paris by night
eiffel tower
au pair in the park

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Friday, June 23, 2006

touch me all over

I arrive early.

After booking my massage six months in advance, I'm eager to say the least.

Standing in front of the glass sliding doors, I watch as people inside slowly set up for the day.

The building is tall and I'm on the third floor. Glass windows across the way reveal people heading to their offices, racks of expensive clothing and a restaurant upstairs.

My brother bought me the massage at the Kenzo spa as a Christmas present. “Book early,” he warned, having been told there was a five-month waiting list.

Eventually I'm let in and led to the back of room, where I'm seated on a cushion and given a glass of water.

In front of me is a large, glowing bubble, white and cushion-like. It is la bulle Kenzo, where my massage will take place.

A woman leads me inside and gives me two options: “The massage you’ve been bought isn’t really a massage. It’s more of a sensual game for your back. There are no oils or massaging. Most people don’t realize this, and if you like, you can exchange it for a real massage.”

I pause and think. She continues.

“We use feathers, and different objects…”

I don't hesitate: “I’ll take the real massage." Feathers? I need someone to work my back, not tickle it.

She tells me to undress, gives me the option of wearing a towel over my underwear, and leaves the room.

This is my first massage, so I strip down to my thong and wrap the towel around my waist, then lie down and wait.

Eventually she returns, lowers the lights, and soft French music fills the small room. As I start to relax I feel a tug at my towel, which is slowly lifted away from my body.

Left in nothing but my lacy thong, I realize that being bashful isn’t always an option in Paris.

Soon her oily hands are running up my legs, up my back, down my arms. I’m surprised by the intimacy. I didn’t realize massages were so personal. It’s practically sexual, but the rubbing motions are so soothing I eventually become comatose.

By the time the massage is done I feel like falling asleep and never awaking. I don’t want to leave my little bubble. She gets me a drink, lowers the lights, then tells me she'll meet me outside.

Alone in the room I take my time. I slowly get dressed, turn up the lights, and reach for the door handle.

The door won’t open. It won’t open. I push, I pull, I wiggle the handle. Nothing.

I press buttons. Nothing. I’m locked in a bubble. A fucking bubble.

I body slam. No luck. I knock.

After a good ten minutes I’ve lost all serenity from the massage, but eventually my knocking is heard and the woman arrives.

“The door gets stuck sometimes. You have to push hard,” she tells me.

Is body slamming not pushing hard?

Eventually I’m calm and serene again. I’m out of the bubble, I smell of oils, and my skin is softer than the day I was born.

And other than the unsettling ending, I feel my body could get used to this kind of attention.

la bulle kenzo
my bulle

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

men, mingling and music

My tired blonde head has barely graced my pillow this week.

The night keeps drawing me out, trotting down the sidewalk in heels, into the evening air, in search of a fix. I need the life here, the people, the language, the overpriced drinks and the cigarette smoke in the air.

I’ve been taking myself out for dinner, prancing through bars, and avoiding phone calls from men I have no interest for.

The other night I found myself in a room full of Parisian bloggers. Paris-blogue-t’il? Yes, Paris is blogging. In fact, many good-looking French men are blogging.

There was free wine and champagne, a buffet of confused amuse-bouches, and slices of rich chocolate cake. There was a DJ open to my James Brown requests, and an altogether soulful crowd.

Last night the music went up a notch, as fete de la musique took over Paris. Strewn through every street were bands, DJ’s, and crowds of drunken music lovers.

I walked the streets on my own, and pushed my way through people as the rain the started to fall, thin drops glowing under golden street lights.

Hotel de Ville had classical music, where a dramatic pianist set the mood on a large stage, while grey billowy grey crowds filled the sky.

In Place des Vosges I found stands selling mojitos for three euros, and walked around with a filthy smile on my face, in love with the combination of rum, rain and music.

Place de la Bastille was a jungle of teenagers shaking to reggae, some under umbrellas, some dancing in the rain.

Eventually I found people, a bar, and drank and made merry all night. At four in the morning I walked Rue Rivoli with my new cocktail companion, as we dodged men who yelled at us from every direction, and hailed a cab when we were tired of having our asses grabbed and our boundaries tested.

What the hell am I going to do without this city?

I’m afraid it’s going to feel like I was drunk for a year, and when I have to leave, I’ll suddenly be sober.

But my time here isn’t over yet, and this glass is far from being empty.

blonde bloggers
paris is blogging
the wine was free...
il aime les blondes
fete de la musique

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Monday, June 19, 2006

won't you join me?

Paris Blogue-t-il? V

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

je t'adore


When I called you from my university dorm room to tell you I was going to Paris instead of going into second year, you smiled through the telephone line and told me to go for it.

From the day I was born you have taught me the meaning of joie de vivre. I wouldn't be the woman I am today without your bear hugs, jazz music, garlic infused salad dressings, bad jokes and contagious laugh.

You taught me that I was beautiful, intelligent, and that everything tastes better with hot sauce.

I don't like you. I love you. Thank you for being everything that you are.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

seeing you in a new light

This morning grabbed me, pressed itslef against me, and held me close.

Wandering the streets under a bright sun, this city, so full of history, sat illuminated under the sun.

My legs moved easily on the dirty pavement.

I dipped my pastry into a large cafe creme on the second floor of a cafe, light spilling onto the tables.

I walked the Seine and stopped in the gaps of sunshine, watching men in suits roar past on their motorbikes.

It was a morning so far removed from the winter months, where I dreaded Paris, and never crawled out of bed until noon.

And suddenly I was happy, because I found a place, or at least a morning, where I felt I was meant to be.

morning cafe
notre dame
where are we?
gliding along
i'm only happy in the sun
cirrus clouds
whispy sky
sur le pont

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

suicide is painless

At the bottom of the stairwell the Portuguese landlady hands me a letter to take to the seventh floor.

The elevator is broken, and the kids and I are going up anyways.

We’re about to head up the stairs when she says: “I’ve had some horrible news today.”

“Quoi?” I inquire, knowing that horrible news is usually the most interesting.

“A friend of mine, his son committed suicide. They found him out in the garden. No note. He did it with a knife. I’ve been sick all day just thinking about it.”

We exchange regrets, then I start heading up the stairs with the kids. The girl stops.

“What’s suicide?” She asks.

“It’s when somebody kills themselves,” I answer, afraid of scaring the kids with my bluntness.

“It doesn’t hurt though, does it?” Asks the boy.

“It hurts a lot for a second, but then you’re dead,” I answer, shocked by my inability to sugarcoat my words.

“Why did the son kill himself?” The young girl continues to prod.

“I don’t know. He didn’t leave a note. He must have been very miserable. Sometimes people aren’t happy in life. They find life too hard.”

My mind slips back into my past, where thoughts of suicide would dance jigs in my brain, my mind swimming in melancholia.

“Do you know why I like life?” She asks, smiling.

I’m expecting to be moved, “What, what do you like?”

“Star Wars! Star Wars makes me happy!” She boasts, skipping into the apartment.

“Well thank god for Star Wars,” I say, a smile growing on my lips, “whatever it takes to make you happy.”

what's wrong buddy?